How to save the Earth and save money

Low Cost Energy Efficiency.

It is often hard for some to see what contribution individuals with little financial means can make in terms of using energy efficient devices, since energy efficient devices generally carry a price premium. I know the problem, I've been there. There are however, a whole host of low cost or no cost power saving options that anyone can use to improve energy efficiency.

People often think that it is neccessary to fit renewable energy systems such as solar panels/wind turbines/microhydro systems to become energy efficient. Whilst this certainly moves the source of energy generation to a far more environmentally friendly form, it does not reduce an individual's use of energy. In many respects, the first place to start to become energy efficient/more environmentally friendly is to reduce energy consumption. This in turn, reduces the renewable energy requirements, and hence lowers the costs of the renewable energy requirements.

There are a number of ways to reduce energy consumption whilst on a limited budget, ranging from the painless and non technical, to the more technical and complex. Surprisingly perhaps, the painless ways to reduce energy consumption are amongst the best.

It cannot be emphasised enough, the energy savings shown on this webpage, can achieve more than any march against government, any protest letter. Why ? Because not only can one actively work to save the planet by reducing energy consumption, but by reducing energy consumption, big business in the form of utilities is directly affected in the pocket since reduced energy bills means less to pay utility companies. Once again, the intelligent application of Physics can be used to make a monkey out of government and some big businesses.

Zero Cost

1. Switch off household appliances. That does not mean leaving TVs, Video Recorders, HiFis, Computer Monitors or Computers on standby, it means switching them off at the mains socket on the wall. All these devices draw some power even when in standby, and this will mount up over a period of time. Switch them off after use (wherever possible), and you will help reduce your electricity bills. Sometimes, this won't be possible of course - if you run a house computer server for instance, and that needs to be on continually. However, in this case, try and choose a computer with a power saving mode, and if it needs to be left on and unattended, switch the Monitor off when it is not being used.

2. Switch off lights when they do not need to be left switched on, unless they need to be switched on and off frequently. If a light needs to be switched on and off frequently because people come into and out of a room on a frequent basis, then it is often better to leave it switched on. However, in this case, it is highly recommended that an energy efficient bulb is used.

3. Do not leave fridges or freezers open for longer than neccessary to remove food. It takes a lot of energy to cool the internal volume of a fridge or freezer, and the more they are allowed to warm up by leaving their doors open, the more energy will be needed to cool them down again.

4. Put a lid on saucepans wherever possible, especially where water is being boiled. Using the minimum amount of water neccessary, rather than far too much water, also helps, since less water needs to be boiled then, which in turn means less energy is required to boil the water.

5. Lower central heating thermostat settings by 1 degree or more.


1. Fit draught excluders to doors and windows. This keeps heat within a dwelling, rather than letting heat escape and forcing a heating system to use extra energy to heat the surrounding area around the dwelling.

2. Fit metal foil behind radiators. Radiators work by radiating heat (hence their name). The heat is conducted through the radiator in the form of hot water, and the conduction lets the heat flow to the surface of the radiator, form where it is radiated - hence they are active radiators. Metal foil is also a radiator, albeit a passive radiator. By placing metal foil behind the hot water radiator, heat that would be radiated into the wall is reflected back into the room, thus adding to the efficiency of the heating.

3. Fit shelves above radiators, preferably shelves with a curved (concave) undersurface. Hot air rises, thus some of the heat generated by a radiator rises. If a shelf is placed above a radiator, the heat flow rising from the top of the radiator is directed into the room rather than upwards towards the ceiling.


If you are unable to make any other financial purchase for energy efficiency purposes, buy 1 Compact Flourescent Bulb, and place it in your most used light wherever you live. The difference even 1 CFL bulb can make in reducing electricity bills can be considerable. Also, instead of trading an incandescent bulb for a Compact Flourescent Bulb of similar lighting output, consider going for a slightly lower light output, e.g. if you were replacing a 60 Watt Bulb with the equivalent Compact Flourescent Bulb (normally an 11 Watt Compact Flourescent Bulb), consider instead trading down to the equivalent of a 40 Watt Incandescent Bulb (in the case of a Compact Flourescent Bulb, the equivalent to this would be a 9 Watt light).

Device Energy Use Per Week (Watts) Energy Use Per Month (Watts) Energy Use Per Year (Watts) CO2 per year Annual Running Costs
60 Watt Incandescent Bulb 2520 W 10,080 W 131,400 W
131.4 KW
197lbs 13.14
40 Watt Incandescent Bulb 1680 W 6720 W 87,600 W
87.6 KW
131lbs 8.76
11 Watt Compact Flourescent Bulb 462 W 1848 W 24,090 W
24 KW
36lbs 2.41
9 Watt Compact Flourescent Bulb 378 W 1512 W 19,710 W
19.7 KW
30lbs 1.97
8 Watt Compact Flourescent Bulb 336 W 1344 W 17,520 W
17.5 KW
26lbs 1.75

Energy savings of Compact Flourescent Lights over Incandescent Lights

Device Comparison Energy Saving Per Week (Watts) Energy Saving Per Month (Watts) Energy Saving Per Year (Watts) CO2 Saved per year Running Costs saved per Year
11 Watt Compact Flourescent vs 60 Watt Incandescent Bulb 2058 W 8232 W 107,310 W
107.3 KW
161lbs 10.73
9 Watt Compact Flourescent vs 40 Watt Incandescent Bulb 1302 W 5208 W 67,890 W
67.9 KW
101lbs 6.79
9 Watt Compact Flourescent vs 60 Watt Incandescent Bulb 2142 W 8568 W 111,690 W
111.7 KW
167lbs 11.17


For this sum of money, 4 Compact Flourescent Bulbs could be fitted in a dwelling instead of 4 incandescent lights. The cost savings would not be immediately apparent due to the initial cost of the CFL bulbs, however, over the long term, the use of the CFL bulbs would pay dividends. The following tables provide some indication of savings that could be realised through using 4 CFL bulbs instead of 4 incandescent bulbs:

Device CO2 saved per year Running Costs saved per Year Overall Costs saved per Year (including bulb cost)
4 x 11 Watt Compact Flourescent Bulbs 644lbs 42.92 18.56
4 x 9 Watt Compact Flourescent Bulbs 668lbs 44.68 20.32

Now whilst this not seem like a major cost saving, it must be bourne in mind that Compact Flourescent bulbs have 10,000 hour lifetimes, compared with an average of around 750 hours for an incandescent bulb, so the Compact Flourescent bulb costs become less of an issue the longer the timespan over which the costs are calculated. Given this, the costs change considerably in the favour of the Compact Flourescent bulbs, as the following table shows:

Device CO2 saved over 5 years Running Costs saved over 5 years Overall Costs saved over 5 years (including bulb cost)
4 x 11 Watt Compact Flourescent Bulbs 3220lbs 214.60 204.64
4 x 9 Watt Compact Flourescent Bulbs 3340lbs 223.40 213.44